Startling Reading Results

I see it all around me...there's encouragement on all fronts to read! 

My email box is brimming with notes from company's who want me to sign my child up for their "rewards for reading" program.  My Pinterest boards are full of the best "book lists" and "how to encourage reading" pins from other like minded book lovers.  Our home library expands weekly - books are given to us by friends or are lovingly saved from the township library book sale.  The children's book nook at the local big box book store is huge, there must be a customer base. 

It is hard for me to comprehend reading is in jeapordy.  How can this be?  Parents want their children to read - right?  

Yet, a study from the National Endowment for the Arts* reveals a startling decline in American reading habits.  From their study:

Americans are reading less - teens and young adults read less often and for shorter amounts of time compared with other age groups and with Americans of previous years.
  • Less than one-third of 13-year-olds are daily readers, a 14 percent decline from 20 years earlier. Among 17-year-olds, the percentage of non-readers doubled over a 20-year period, from nine percent in 1984 to 19 percent in 2004.1
  • On average, Americans ages 15 to 24 spend almost two hours a day watching TV, and only seven minutes of their daily leisure time on reading.2

Seven minutes.  SEVEN MINUTES!!

Parents want their children to read - right?  Yes, I still believe they do, but reading is in direct competition with sports and homework and TV and handheld gaming.  Homeschoolers are not exempt from the dangers either. 

As parents we need to be intentional. 
As parents we need to have a plan. 
As parents we need to read ourselves. 

What is your reading plan?  How are you being "intentional" with your child's reading time?

1. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
2. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey (2006)
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  1. It originally started as a way to give my preschooler a bit more time with me during lesson time and has now evolved into a favorite part of the day. Before we start any formal lessons, I let my kids pick books to read - totally their choice. Depending on the day, I will pick some, too. This gives us a solid 30-60 minute block of time several times a week to just enjoy reading together. This does not count our chapter book read alouds or anything else attached to a formal lesson. It's been great!

    1. I treasure those moments - snuggled up together reading stacks of "short and sweet" books. We also always try to have a family read aloud going throughout the day too. Plus a reading book for bedtime.
      The best thing I've done to promote reading in our home is to have "non-TV" and "non-electronic" (ipad, games, etc) days. We have daily limits on TV and electronics at all times, but those days without these elements are joyful for encouraging reading.

  2. Hi Penny,
    Another thing we have done is our TV is on a rolling cart in the basement. It's kind of a pain to get to and get set up, so we really have to want to watch something in order to pull it out - I don't think we've had it out since our team lost in the NFL playoffs in early January! Having grown up watching TV daily (several hours, I am sure), I am thankful for the (limited) time I have to read, do projects, try to start a library :), pursue hobbies, etc. that was lost to TV all those years. I know for some this is impossible and not even desirable, but our boys default to books and Legos and such the way I used to default to TV; we do DVDs only rarely. Kids learn computers so fast, we'll introduce them to that world someday. My 7yo occasionally plays chess on it but I encourage him to do the real thing. (They do watch TV at relatives so they at least know what it is. :) ) LImiting electronic options gives kids the time to discover and love books! Just another perspective!
    Thanks for what you do!